I think frugality runs in my family. When I was growing up, the most frugal person I knew was my grandmother. She lived on nothing more than her Social Security check each month, yet she managed to feed large groups of visitors, and she entertained often. How did she do it?

Well, in Minnesota, where I was raised, we ate something called "hotdish". In the rest of the civilized world, it's called "casserole", but in Minnesota, it's "hotdish". It really doesn't matter what kind of casserole it is, it is always called hotdish, and it was a staple of church potluck dinners, family reunions and large get-togethers.

The great thing about hotdish is it is made with a lot of common ingredients, and none of them are expensive. You can feed large groups of people with it, and it's a one-dish meal, so it's extremely easy to make. My grocery budget was a bit tight this past pay period, so for a couple of meals I prepared the good old standby that my kids happen to love: Tater Tot Hotdish.

The ingredients of hotdish can vary, but the concept is the same: you use meat (usually browned grouund beef), canned soup (cream of mushroom is the tried and true ingredient), a starch (egg noodles or potatoes) and a vegetable of some kind (French-cut green beans are good, but it could also be canned mixed vegetables). Here is the general recipe for Tater Tot Hotdish:

1 pound browned ground beef (you can substitute ground turkey)
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 bag of tater tots
1 can of green beans (drained)
1 soup can of milk

Mix the soup, milk, beans and ground beef in a casserole dish. Stir in half the tater tots and then top the hotdish with more tater tots. Put it a 325 degree oven until bubbling. Take out and let cool a few minutes. Serve.

That's it! I have posted a link to the Campbell's Soup Kitchen on my blog, so you kind find more casserole, er...hotdish recipes there. Cheap, filling, yummy....hotdish!


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